URBANA, Ill. --- After a successful dual match season that saw North Carolina finish with a 28-4 record and advance to the NCAA quarterfinals, four members of the Tar Heel squad will begin pursuit of the 2013 NCAA singles title Wednesday at the Atkins Tennis Center at the University of Illinois. Gina Suarez-Malaguti, Zoe De Bruycker, Caroline Price and Whitney Kay make up the largest contingent of singles entries in the event in program history.
Suarez-Malaguti, the No. 7 seed in the event, begins play against No. 34 Mary Anne Macfarlane of Alabama at 9 a.m. CT. The ACC Player of the Year, Suarez-Malaguti has already earned ITA All-America honors by virtue of her placement as a top-8 seed. This year marks Suarez-Malaguti's first trip to the NCAA singles tournament, and the winner of her first-round match will face the winner of the match between Clemson's Beatrice Gumulya and Rice's Dominique Harmath.
De Bruycker is competing in her third NCAA singles tournament, and the Saratoga, Calif., senior is looking to earn All-America honors for the second time in her career. As a sophomore, De Bruycker advanced to the round of 16 with wins over Stanford's Mallory Burdette and Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (formerly of Maryland, now at national finalist Texas A&M). De Bruycker will face No. 42 Abigail Tere-Apisah of Georgia State at 10 a.m.
Price is in her first NCAA singles tournament and will face No. 50 Lacey Smyth of Arizona at noon. The Duluth, Ga., sophomore is coming off a breakout season that saw her finish the dual match schedule with a record of 22-2. The winner of the Price-Smyth match will face the winner of the match between Tennessee's Brynn Boren and Virginia's Julie Elbaba.
Kay is Carolina's first freshman to earn a spot in the NCAA singles event since Sanaz Marand and Katrina Tsang qualified as freshmen in 2007. The Alpharetta, Ga., freshman will meet No. 43 Klara Fabikova in Wednesday's first round at noon. Kay was a key member of the Carolina lineup throughout her first season in Chapel Hill, earning ITA Carolina Region Rookie of the Year honors as well being named MVP of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in February.